A look at what was good, what was bad, and what was straight up ugly in wrestling this week.
Another week has gone by in the week of professional wrestling and so, it is time to review the good, bad and ugly for WWE, NXT, and AEW all this week. Yes, sometimes there will be more good, more bad, or definitely more ugly, but we will keep it to a minimum and only pick out (or on) the most blatantly obvious topics of the week. Here we go!
Randy Orton Strikes Again
Randy Orton has been absolutely on fire for weeks now. One of the greatest wrestlers of this entire generation, the Apex Predator continues on his vicious rampage as the born again “Legend Killer”, preying on perhaps his most vulnerable and unsuspecting victim yet, the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
While it seemed like things were going to take a turn for the worst for ‘Naitch, the two embraced, only before the Viper struck, in classic, vintage Orton fashion with a deadly low blow. Most wrestling fans who have followed Orton’s career over the past 15 years likely predicted this was coming, but the guy is still the absolute best at what he does.
Just to keep this one short and sweet, what a treat it was to see legendary referee Mike Chioda back in the ring, even if it was just for one night. After 30 years in the business, Chioda proved he still has it in the stripes at his age and can bring a wealth of knowledge to a somewhat struggling AEW officiating team (as we’ll discuss later). With Tazz on commentary and Chioda in the ring, it brought back some mega 2003 SmackDown vibes. Good stuff.
The Golden Role Models
Bayley and Sasha Banks have been carrying not only the women’s division but a lot of the WWE on their backs during the majority of the pandemic era. Their snarky promos and heel tactics have provided entertaining segments and matches for months and they look to be on the best runs of their respective careers. Can’t wait to see what’s next from this golden duo next.
“Retribution” on Raw
First of all, what is going on here?
While any wrestling fan can appreciate when WWE attempts to shake things up once in a while (another hot topic being, Raw Underground), this “Retribution” faction doesn’t seem to be it. The group has been heavily criticized by both fans and former wrestling personalities as being incredibly small, teenage-looking hooligans, causing havoc around the WWE Performance Center.
While the intrigue of having the lights flashing during matches and adding a bit of mystery is definitely a bright point of the show, the masked group throwing cinder blocks through windows and flipping over cars while yelling “get out of here” is not the spark that WWE needs to boost ratings, at least not yet.
Any long-time fan of WWE is probably in the same boat of believing that the reason they haven’t been identified yet is because the faction actually hasn’t even been decided on yet. Could this be another “hacker” angle? Let’s hope this gets better soon.
There is no question that Johnny Gargano and Candace LeRae are two of top, brightest stars in NXT. In fact, Johnny Gargano could be in a lot of discussion for the greatest NXT superstar of all time. With that said, these “Gargano House” segments are just… not very good.
From the bizarre fairy tale stories, to the incredibly weird editing, everything about this segment was just not what we’d generally expect from NXT programming. While these have been going on for some time and some have been better than others, it’s safe to say that these don’t seem to be improving. Let’s hope that Mr. and Mrs. Wrestling can find their way again with some better creative direction.
SmackDown: All of it
Unfortunately, outside of Bayley and Sasha, this entire show made the “bad” list this week. From the poor booking in matches to the absolutely cringe-worthy creative, this show has been comically bad for months. Guys like Bray Wyatt, Matt Riddle, Alexa Bliss, Chad Gable, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy deserve much better. Do better, SmackDown.
Ugh. What is going on here?
This is a topic that could almost be present in the “ugly” category on a weekly basis.
All Elite Wrestling started this week with a tag match between the Young Bucks and the Dark Order. While these two teams have always put on great matches in the past (special shout out to the incredibly underrated Stu Greyson), there were once again multiple times in the match where referee Rick Knox had completely lost control.
As a viewer, the non-stop action is definitely exciting, but it’s not necessarily good to confuse fans as to who the legal man is for a solid portion of the match. The same could have been said with the tag team title match between Omega and Page and Jurassic Express. How does one get away with literally using another human being (not in the match) as a weapon? Let’s hope Mike Chioda can teach some lessons in not looking stupid in the black and white stripes.
Rey Fenix Punches
This was bad. REALLY bad.
Now, this article won’t always include shows such as AEW Dark, or WWE Main Event, but sometimes things just happen that need to be discussed. This being one of them.
In case you missed it, Rey Fenix took on regularly used jobber Lee Johnson on AEW Dark this week. While Dark obviously doesn’t get the same attention on YouTube that other AEW programming gathers on national television, this picked up a lot of traction online for all the wrong reasons.
Fenix was shown holding Johnson on the bottom rope while “pummelling” him in the face, however, it was utterly and completely obvious that Fenix was punching HIS OWN arm and not even coming close to Johnson.
Now, while it looks bad on Fenix’s end, the real blame here goes to AEW production. How this still aired, despite being a post-production show is astonishing. Besides, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a masked man throwing ridiculously bad punches on All Elite Wrestling television….